Kentucky’s ugly past echoes in lawmakers’ vows to keep the state’s matrimonial paperwork separate but equal.

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KENTUCKY and a whole lot of kindred states tried separate but equal before and, appropriately, it was a disgraceful failure. Now Kentucky’s state Senate proposes a variation on the theme: different marriage licenses for gay and straight couples.

Remember the arrogant, long-serving Kentucky county clerk who treated her job as a personal fiefdom? She refused to obey the law and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

With her in mind, the state Legislature is trying to remove clerks’ names from the marriage license.

The Republican-controlled state Senate also insists on the words “bride” and “groom” appearing. An amendment proposed one license to identify the parties as bride, groom or spouse. The Republican majority went instead for two separate licenses.

Kentucky is one of the Southern states that outlawed marriage between races until the U.S. Supreme Court struck down miscegenation laws in 1967.

At one level, marriage is about two people uniting in the eyes of the law. Those legal arrangements can also be blessed by religious services across all manner of faiths and beliefs.

The legislation that tripped out of the state Senate will now be tested in the House. Maybe those lawmakers can save the Legislature from itself and salvage Kentucky’s reputation in the 21st century.